#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Subterfuge (A Tom Stone Detective Story #5) by Don Simkovich and Lon Casler Bixby (@DonSimkovich @LonBixby) @cobaltdinosaur #Subterfuge #damppebbles

“A wounded man, fiberglass wreckage, and mysterious blue barrels wash up on a secluded beach north of Los Angeles in Malibu, California.

Detective Tom Stone jumps into action in this gripping thriller novel and uncovers human trafficking as drug smugglers try a new trick.

The Ojos Negros cartel forms an uneasy alliance with LA mob boss Frank DeVito. Using hidden sea caves as drop-off points, the new syndicate maneuvers to expand their brutal drug empire, and guns down anyone who stands in their way.

Stone and his team trail the lone survivor, Luis Delgado, who longs to return home to Mexico but is trapped in a deadly game of subterfuge. He vows revenge on the evil men who have destroyed his life and countless others with their greed.

The Detectives race to find Delgado and bring down the cartel, before another innocent victim is killed.

Uncover narco-subs plying the seas with page-turning action—and hold on for an explosive ending.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles! Today I’ve handed the keys to the blog over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his thoughts on the fifth Tom Stone Detective Story – Subterfuge. Subterfuge was published on 6th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats. Ryan chose to read and review a free digital copy of Subterfuge but that has in no way influenced his review.

Subterfuge is the first novel I have read by the team of Simkovich and Casler Bixby. It’s an intriguing story of smugglers, mafia style gangs and the police trying to stop them. When two cartels collide there is always friction and the creaky alliance made between the leader known as ‘Rabbit’ and De Vito’s gang stops this being the classic Cops vs Gangs, adding a third dimension for alliances and treachery.

One aspect of Subterfuge that shone through was the character of Luis Delgado. Delgado is the lone survivor from a failed drugs run. His life has been destroyed and he’s scared of going home in case the cartels find him. He becomes the unpredictable element in a story filled with drama. Casler Bixby and Simkovich have written a story that can be seen from 4 sides. The Cops (Stone and Sharpe) are a good pairing. Determined to get results even if it means using some friends in low places. De Vito’s cartel is a scary place to live – “serve well or die quickly” appears to be the unofficial motto. De Vito’s empire is growing with just one thorn in his side – the Ojo Negros Cartel. So when Rabbit from the Ojo Negros walks into De Vito’s stronghold and declares a partnership an uneasy truce starts to take place. The fourth and final view is from Delgado who finds himself in the middle of a situation he could never have imagined. A twisted character torn between revenge, staying alive and justice – which way will he turn?

Every time I opened this book I was desperate to see whether the characters would survive. Who would be gaining the upper hand and who would be taking a one way ticket on the next submarine smuggling drugs across the oceans. The authors do a wonderful job of making the readers feel empathy for some of the victims of the cartels. You want to protect them, you want them to win out, but you know they are up against all the odds and the chances of them being double crossed are high. The authors keep the action high throughout the book, luring the reader on for one more page in expert fashion.

Subterfuge is a recommended read for anyone looking for a thriller with plenty of action and strong characters. It will pull you in and keep you riveted until the final page. I’m sure there is more to come from the authors and I will be keeping my eyes peeled.

I chose to read and review a free copy of Subterfuge. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Subterfuge by Don Simkovich & Lon Casler Bixby was published in the UK by Carved in Stone Media on 6th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | the damppebbles bookshop.org shop | Goodreads |

Don returned to his love for writing fiction after years of writing and narrating a radio spot series, marketing copy, and handling the pressures of a wild and crazy family life.

Frequent calls to the local Sheriff’s office, plus the intensity of handling teen alcoholism and teen pregnancy pressed stories from his mind like Earth’s weighty layers turn shale into harvestable fuel.

Well, you get the picture.

Don has fine-tuned his craft writing romance to crime fiction and the recent Tom Stone detective stories.

He lives at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains with his family, two dogs, and anyone else who happens to drop by and live for a spell.

Lon is a published author in various genres: Fiction, Poetry, Humor, Photography, and Comic Books. He is also a professional award-winning photographer whose work has been featured in a wide variety of magazines, art & coffee table books, and has also been displayed in Art Galleries throughout the world.

Lon lives out of his photography studio in Burbank, California where he shares his living space with his wonderful, albeit spoiled, Silver Lab named Silver.

#GuestReview: Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder (@richleder) @LaughRiotPress @cobaltdinosaur #CookingForCannibals #damppebbles

Fountain of youth? More like murderous medication!

Carrie Kromer pushes the boundaries of science, not her social life. The brilliant behavioral gerontologist’s idea of a good time is hanging out with her beloved lab rats and taking care of her elderly mother and the other eccentric old folks at the nursing home. So no one is more surprised than Carrie when she steals the lab’s top-secret, experimental medicine for aging in reverse.

Two-time ex-con Johnny Fairfax dreams of culinary greatness. But when his corrupt parole officer tries to drag him from the nursing home kitchen, the suddenly young-again residents spring to his defence and murder the guy—and then request Johnny cook them an evidence devouring dinner to satisfy their insatiable side-effect appetite.

As their unexpected mutual attraction gets hot, Carrie and Johnny find themselves caught up with the authorities who arrive to investigate the killing. But even more dangerous than the man-eating not-so-senior citizens could be the arrival of death-dealing pharmaceutical hitmen.

Can Carrie and Johnny find true love in all this bloody madness?

Cooking for Cannibals is a dark comic thriller with a heaping helping of romance. If you like fast-paced plots, unconventional characters, and humor that crosses the line, then you’ll have a feast with Rich Leder’s wild ride.”

Welcome to damppebbles. Ryan here again. I’m sure you have a favourite book in the “Gerontologist and Cook” genre and are fearing it is a saturated market (🤪). But read on, for this is a novel not be missed!  Cooking for Cannibals is fast paced, thought provoking, humorous and characterful, and will leave you scouring the book sites and book shops for more from Rich Leder.

Leder has created a comic novel the likes of which Carl Hiaasen would be proud of. Brilliantly characterised characters, larger than life miscreants, a situation that no matter how twisted it seems can always be wrung further, sucking helpless readers in to find out what is going to happen next.

Carrie and Johnny are two interesting lead characters. As the blurb explains, you wouldn’t expect to find that they know each other. So when the storyline throws them together, facing everyone and everything private pharma can throw at them, they make an interesting pairing!  If you had an age reversing drug rejuvenating the inhabitants of an old folks home and needed to keep it quiet, you would not want your main confident to be someone this different from you who you didn’t trust, but that’s exactly the situation Carrie and Johnny end up in.  I loved how well we got to know these two characters, their feelings, drives, doubts and thoughts on the various situations they found themselves in.  Something a standalone novel allows is that ability for an author to draw everything out of a character rather than having to save some secret backstory or character flaw for the next book.  Leder doesn’t just wring his characters out, he puts them through hell and back for the delectation and delight of the reader.

This is one of those rare books that I couldn’t put down. It delighted me every time I picked it up and it’s probably the only book I’ll ever read where I think the cannibals are in the right!  If you are looking for escapism after a rotten 2020. If you want to sit back and be entertained by a colourful cast on an incredible adventure, then this is your 2020 tonic!  A fantastic book from an author that I will happily return to.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Cooking for Cannibals. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Cooking for Cannibals by Rich Leder was published in the UK by Laugh Riot Press on 14th January 2021 and is available in digital format (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukamazon.com |

Rich Leder has been a working writer for more than three decades. His credits include 19 produced movies—television films for CBS, Lifetime, and Hallmark and feature films for Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Longridge Productions, and Left Bank Films—and six novels for Laugh Riot Press.

He’s been the lead singer in a Detroit rock band, a restaurateur, a Little League coach, an indie film director, a literacy tutor, a magazine editor, a screenwriting coach, a wedding guru, a PTA board member, a commercial real estate agent, and a visiting artist for the UNCW Film Studies Department, among other things, all of which, it turns out, was grist for the mill.

He resides on the North Carolina coast with his awesome wife, Lulu, and is sustained by the visits home of their three fabulous children.

#GuestReview: Deadline by Geoff Major (@GradusPrimus) @cobaltdinosaur #Deadline #damppebbles

“Adam Ferranti was a talented American journalist, who moved to England to escape the issues surrounding his fall from glory at the Washington Post; only to be thrust back in it when a mysterious serial killer makes him his confidante.

DS Stephanie Walker is a member of the West Yorkshire Police. Whilst tough and results-driven at work, she hides the abuse she suffers at home. She finds Ferranti annoying but he’s her only chance to stay close to what the killer is planning next.

Ferranti reluctantly complies with the Police, but when the killer reveals himself it suddenly gets personal.”

I have to start this review with an apology. An apology to Emma (@damppebbles). The twist at the end of this book was so surprising that I just blurted out what had happened. For the first time in 13 years of knowing her, I ruined a book that she was quite desperate to read. So sorry again, Emma!

From that apology you can tell you can tell that I enjoyed and was shocked by the end of this book. Geoff Major has created monsters in Deadline.  Almost every character that you meet in this book has a reason for instant suspicion. The plot slowly takes shape with multiple threads coming together in a tight knot around both the doomed and the unsuspecting. I found this book impossible to put down, impossible to second guess and very twisty.

Adam Ferranti is exactly the character that you expect from the blurb. An American journalist who ends up in the UK working for the Yorkshire Post whilst reeking of alcohol. An employee so untrusted the paper send a taxi to collect (or wake!) him every morning. Through his friendship with the taxi driver, Khatri, we get to know Adam as well informed, intellectual and occasionally empathic individual but not one who is delighted to be social.  As we get to hear more about his history we find out the “one that got away” the Pulitzer Prize that never was and Adam’s continual quest to get a big story. That is until the phone rings at his office desk and an anonymous voice tips him off about murder scenes which the police have attended and also have yet to attend. Major grips you as a reader and doesn’t let go as you follow this dramatic story with the clock ticking down to the deadline.

The police characters in this book are an interesting bunch. The lead investigator, the hard nosed DS Walker, takes centre stage to begin with but gradually we meet the team around her. The promotion focussed boss, Hobbs, the surprise new sidekick for Walker and the other investigators from around the country facing their linked murder scenes.  Major does a brilliant job of showing the raw competition between these colleagues who are also desperate to stop the body count, but also get some personal kudos out of the investigation. I loved the hunt and the way in which seemingly unconnected characters seamlessly fitted together into a bigger picture.

At the same time as we follow the police investigation we start to see glimpses of activity in the USA, and then the tenuous links begin to appear…..

I’m not going to say anymore as I don’t want to give away the ending (again! ☹) but this is a book full of twists, turns, intrigue and murder that will satisfy even the most cynical reader. This is an easy five-star read and one that I heartily recommend.

Deadline by Geoff Major was published in the UK by Grosvenor House Books on 1st September 2020 and is available in hardcover, paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.ukWaterstonesFoylesBook DepositoryGoodreads |

JM3A1139 (2)A long time ago, Geoff Major had an idea for a story, whilst walking his girls to primary school. Two years ago, he decided he had the time and patience to try to write the story down. His wife was wholly supportive, so he turned from full-time to part-time for four months and now – 23 years after that idea first popped into his head – it has been published.

As a self-employed business consultant for 18 years and a fundraising adventurer for 10 years (including ski-trekking 50 miles, over 6 days and 6 nights, to the geographic North Pole), he now works for a debt charity whilst plotting his next three books.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Where is Tony Blunt? by Joseph Mitcham (@MitchamJoseph) @cobaltdinosaur #WhereIsTonyBlunt #damppebbles

Where is Tony Blunt_ cover Final High resHas the hornets’ nest been kicked too hard? Having taken down some of the most dangerous members of the UK Terror Watch List – Alex is persuaded to return to help track down the unrelenting Islamist terror organisation ‘the Interest Group’ – Tony Blunt is the only lead.

Where is Tony Blunt? The apparently radicalised former Paratrooper has gone to ground without a trace. Alex finds himself at the heart of the effort to find him. Working with a multi-agency force to track him down, can they find Blunt before he executes his masterpiece?”

Hello! Ryan here. Emma has left me in charge of the blog so I can share my review of Joseph Mitcham’s second book in the Atrocities Series – Where is Tony Blunt? – with you.  I enjoyed the first book, and was keen to find out what happened next…

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Where is Tony Blunt? but that has not influenced my review.

Joseph Mitcham has done it again. Another excellent book which builds to a powder-keg conclusion. Mitcham is an author who trusts his readers. He recognises that not many readers want continual action, and is prepared to blend slow build pressure and fast action strands together into his books.  This book bubbles up to perfection as slowly the atrocities planned by Tony Blunt become clear and we realise that the opportunity for Alex, John, Lucy and the team to stop him is held on a knife-edge.

If you enjoyed The Watch List you have to read Where is Tony Blunt?  After a cleverly written prologue to give us more back story on the mysterious Blunt, we are reunited with Alex in the café where The Watch List ended. Alex is an interesting choice as the lead character for these books. Rather than the go-getting, confident and charismatic leader so many authors choose as their main character, he is a techie who is often having to perform at his best to keep up with others when the action starts.

Mitcham creates a strangely forlorn villain in Blunt. From the prologue there is a temptation towards sorrow for this social misfit, but as the book evolves it becomes clearer that his history has led him to a place where he doesn’t want pity. He wants revenge. It was fascinating to see his doubts in his own ability – certainly he was no egotistical supervillain as you see in some stories, but a human plagued by the same self-doubts many feel in their day to day lives. But I assure you by the end of the book, your pity for this evil character will have gone completely!

The characters are once again well written and the team trying to stop Blunt’s attack are well balanced and generally likeable, yet clash against each other as group tensions and individual priorities threaten the operation.

I would happily recommend this book. The ending may leave room for the next instalment so book me in for that as this is a series that is growing in stature and quality and Mitcham must be one to watch for the future.  Is he on your watch list?

I chose to read and review a free eARC of Where is Tony Blunt? The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Where is Tony Blunt? by Joseph Mitcham was published in the UK on 12th November 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you):
| amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Joseph Mitcham - reducedJoseph Mitcham served with the British military in elite and technical units for over 16 years. His service not only gave him a thorough tactical and technical understanding of some of techniques and processes employed in his first novel, it also provided him with the opportunity to develop himself, earning a first class honours degree in business leadership by the end of his service.

His debut novel, The Watch List, was published in 2019.  The inspiration for writing ‘The Watch List’ was taken from personal experiences from the roles that he has served in and characteristics from some of the people that he has served with. Joseph has written an incredible, yet compellingly credible story that plays out in our world as he sees it today.

#GuestReview: Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis (@alex_gerlis) @canelo_co @cobaltdinosaur #RingOfSpies #ARichardPrinceThriller #damppebbles

Ring of Spies Cover“As the war approaches its end, Prince once more has to risk everything.

Berlin, 1939: A German intelligence officer learns a top agent is quickly moving up the British Army ranks. He bides his time.

Arnhem, 1944: British paratroopers have been slaughtered in one of the bloodiest battles of the Second World War. A shell shocked officer is convinced: the Germans knew they were coming.

But who betrayed them?

Back in London, Richard Prince, detective and spy, is approached by MI5 about a counterintelligence operation. Information is leaking and British troops are dying. Prince has to stop it, and crack the suspected spy ring at all costs. But in the world of espionage nothing is as it seems…

The latest WWII espionage thriller from Alex Gerlis is perfect for readers of Robert Harris, John le Carré and Alan Furst.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I am handing the keys over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who is going to share his thoughts on Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis. Ring of Spies is the third book in the Richard Prince Thriller Series and was published by Canelo on 15th October 2020. Ryan chose to read and review a free eARC of Ring of Spies but that has in no way influenced his review.

Over to Ryan…

Ring of Spies is the first book I have read by Alex Gerlis, it is the third book in the Richard Prince series and it is wonderful! Ring of Spies pulls you straight into the second half of the Second World War. The mission to take Arnhem is a difficult one for the Allies, a successful mission would likely bring forward the end of the war, but when the Allies attack the German’s defence is much stronger than expected. Had the Germans been pre-warned or was it just a coincidence?

Richard Prince is a wonderful character. He starts the book as a detective in Lincolnshire – a much more relaxed existence than his previous work as a spy behind enemy lines. When MI5 need an outsider to find the German Spy in their midst, then Prince is soon pulled back into espionage and the murky world of the different Military Intelligence Sections. I was impressed by how quickly I felt I knew the characters. Despite being the third book in the series, Ring of Spies can easily be read as a standalone. 

Alex Gerlis has clearly done his research for this book. He cleverly interweaves historic facts from the war with the story to lend it a credibility and depth that made this book standout from others in the genre. 

The story is told from multiple perspectives, following Richard Prince as he searches for the German agent, the German Spy “handler” in Berlin, and the unidentified agent in central London. The different perspectives provided a clear ebb and flow to the story, allowing the reader to understand the decisions made and the consequences of those decisions. The investigation isn’t an easy one and the author makes the characters work hard for clues, follow red herrings and suffer misfortune. But do they find their spy before the war ends?  That would be telling 😉

Ring of Spies is a fantastic historic detective/spy thriller that will be well appreciated by many and is a must read if you have an interest in the Second World War period. Wonderful writing, excellent characters and a storyline that will pull you into the immersive world of espionage.

Ryan chose to read and review a free eARC of Ring of Spies. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Ring of Spies by Alex Gerlis was published in the UK by Canelo on 15th October and is available in digital formats with the paperback to follow next year (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Kobo | Goodreads |

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Alex_Gerlis (c) Ealing GazetteAlex Gerlis is the author of the acclaimed Spies series of four Second World War espionage thrillers which are noted for their detailed research and intricate plots and feature two great adversaries: the British spymaster Edgar and his Soviet counterpart Viktor. The television/film rights for The Best of Our Spies have been bought by a major production company.

Born in Lincolnshire, Alex was a BBC journalist for nearly 30 years. He lives in west London with his wife and family and three black cats, a breed which makes cameo appearances in his books. He’s a lifelong supporter of Grimsby Town, which has provided some preparation for the highs and lows of writing novels. When asked if he has worked in the field of espionage he declines to answer in the hope some people may think he has.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun by Pete Adams (@Peteadams8) @NextChapterPB @cobaltdinosaur #RoadKill #DaDaDetectiveAgency #damppebbles

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“Cataclysmic events have occurred in the decorous upper middle class enclave within Southsea, Portsmouth, on the south coast of England.

But what were the circumstances that contributed to this violent clash involving a Sherman tank and a bazooka? The strange occurrence is Investigated by Lord Everard Pimple, a naive, upper class twit who not only inadvertently opens a can of worms, but has an introduction into the world of womanly wiles.

Everard’s life is about to blow up like an atom bomb… he just doesn’t know it yet. But after the dust settles, will he still be standing?”

Hello and a very warm weekend welcome to damppebbles. Today I am delighted to be handing the keys over to my guest reviewer, Ryan, who will be sharing his thoughts on Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun by Pete Adams. Road Kill was published in paperback and digital formats by Gumshoe – A Next Chapter Imprint on 19th August 2020. Ryan recieved a free eARC of Road Kill but that has no influenced his review.

Road Kill marks the first book as we step away from Pete Adams’ ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. In some ways it is a big step, in other ways small. Imagine a person with long legs taking small steps – that’s the kind of thing!

The first thing you note is a gentle shift in the characters. No longer are we are in the orbit of Jack/Jane/Dick Austin and the Community Policing department in Portsmouth. We are certainly in the same universe, the same city in fact but our points of reference for the majority of this book are new characters. Pimple is as inadvertent a main character as you will ever meet, a court reporter for the local Portsmouth newspaper, given a tip-off about a big story and following it in the hope of his big break.

The one thing that you will not get in this book is travel. The author cleverly sets almost three-quarters of the book in a single house in Frisian Tun; the road Jack and Amanda Austin reside in and which saw so much military firepower in the previous series! The story unfolds as the occupants of the house try to explain to Pimple and his glamorous colleague, Cecilia Crumpet, what has happened and their part in it. This approach to storytelling is great fun, with the personalities of the different storytellers becoming more pronounced throughout the story.

Everyone will have their own favourite. Whether it’s Aedd, the geography teacher with the wandering accent, the wandering hands of Georgiana Lovebody – the synchronised swimming teacher, the Professor daydreaming about goatherds, or Dame Pimple herself! In truth, the bickering, the personal relationships and slow destruction of the room add a huge amount to the story and make it a fun read.

One other change I would comment on is that Pete Adams has utilised a different writing style for this book compared to the previous books in the ‘Kind Hearts and Martinets’ series. Throughout the book the author makes asides to the reader directly. Whilst this starts as a surprise, it almost becomes its own subplot allowing the author to ponder on characters and their behaviour without interfering with the story’s narrative.

This is the first book of Pete Adams’ DaDa Detective Agency (Jack/Jane/Dick and Amanda/Duck’s) retirement venture, and it feels like we are in for another fun ride. If you enjoyed the first series then DaDa should be savoured.

Ryan chose to read and review an eARC of Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Road Kill: The Duchess of Frisian Tun by Pete Adams was published in the UK by Next Chapter Publishing on 19th August 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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pete adams

Pete Adams is an architect with a practice in Portsmouth, UK, and from there he has, over forty years, designed and built buildings across England and Wales. Pete took up writing after listening to a radio interview of the writer Michael Connolly whilst driving home from Leeds. A passionate reader, the notion of writing his own novel was compelling, but he had always been told you must have a mind map for the book; Jeez, he could never get that.

Et Voila, Connolly responding to a question, said he never can plan a book, and starts with an idea for chapter one and looks forward to seeing where it would lead. Job done, and that evening Pete started writing and the series, Kind Hearts and Martinets, was on the starting blocks. That was some eight years ago, and hardly a day has passed where Pete has not worked on his writing, and currently, is halfway through his tenth book, has a growing number of short stories, one, critically acclaimed and published by Bloodhound, and has written and illustrated a series of historical nonsense stories called, Whopping Tales.

Pete describes himself as an inveterate daydreamer, and escapes into those dreams by writing crime thrillers with a thoughtful dash of social commentary. He has a writing style shaped by his formative years on an estate that re-housed London families after WWII, and his books have been likened to the writing of Tom Sharpe; his most cherished review, “made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think”.

Pete lives in Southsea with his partner, and Charlie the star-struck Border terrier, the children having flown the coop, and has 3 beautiful granddaughters who will play with him so long as he promises not to be silly.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: Saint Justice by Mike Grist (@michaelgrist) @cobaltdinosaur #SaintJustice #AChristopherWrenThriller #damppebbles

W1“Hundreds of human cages hidden in the desert. One man with nothing to lose.

Christopher Wren pulls off I-70 after three weeks on the road and walks into a biker bar in Price, Utah. An arbitrary decision he’s about to regret.

The bikers attack Wren, leave him for dead and steal his truck.

Now he’s going to get it back.

From a secure warehouse in the desert. Ringed with fences. Filled with human cages.

As Wren digs deeper, a dark national conspiracy unravels and the body count mounts, but one thing is for sure.

They picked the wrong guy to teach a lesson.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Today I’m handing the keys to the blog over to Ryan who is going to share his thoughts on Saint Justice by Mike Grist. ‘Ryan reviews’ are like buses, you wait AGES for one and then three turn up all at once 🤣! Look out for more reviews from my guest reviewer in the coming week. Ryan received a free digital copy of Saint Justice but that in no way influenced his review.

OK, so I think most of us can agree that vigilante books are typically good fun. I think there are a few sub-genres of vigilante fiction; the dark do-gooder, the fallen law enforcer, the twisted and broken genius and of course, the undefeatable action hero. Mike Grist has done something wonderful with Christopher Wren and that is bring all four together into one of the most memorable characters I have met for some time.

Christopher Wren is no longer a CIA operative. He has gone from their thinking – more likely to be arrested than called a hero. His hatred of the downtrodden being treated poorly and taken advantage of drives him to protect others and he picks fights with people, groups and gangs so much bigger than himself. But he is not alone, as throughout his past he has collected a group of people who when he needs it, will come to his aid. But will this be enough against one of his biggest challenges yet? Wren’s backstory is drip fed through flashbacks and plot twists. A complex and sometimes morose character, you would probably not want to sit next to him on a long haul international flight, but you’ll definitely want to read about him!

I know there are some readers who like realism in their books and that’s great, but that’s not what you get with the indestructible but self-destructing hero of Saint Justice. Whether it is fighting brawls against the odds, inspired leaps of logic or driving like it’s Grand Theft Auto,  Saint Justice will have you hanging onto your hat and loving every minute of it.

Mike Grist’s writing was perfectly suited to the cut and thrust of this thriller, taking you to the edge and then leaving you hanging on the precipice for just the right length of time. His style leaves you wanting to read just one chapter more, so be prepared to be glued to your copy!

If you like a survivor, if you like redemption and if you like action then Christopher Wren is the character for you. A fantastic read that I could not put down. If this is book one then sign me up for the next three as this could become one of my favourite series.

Ryan chose to read and review an free digital copy of Saint Justice. The above review is his own unbiased opinion.

Saint Justice by Mike Grist was published in the UK on 10th June 2019 and is available in paperback, audio and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Mike GristMike Grist is the British/American author of the Christopher Wren thriller series. For 11 years Mike lived in Tokyo, Japan, exploring and photographing the dark side of the city and the country: gangs, cults and abandonedplaces. Now he writes from London, UK, about rogue DELTA operator Christopher Wren – an anti-hero vigilante who uses his off-book team of ex-cons to bring brutal payback for dark crimes.

#BlogTour | #GuestReview: The Collector by John Maher #InkubatorBooks @cobaltdinosaur #TheCollector #damppebbles

The Collector John Maher“They say human life is the most precious thing. The Collector doesn’t agree.

When world renowned archaeologist Philip Carlton suddenly and unexpectedly commits suicide, the police are called to investigate. Heading up the investigation is Detective Lucy O’Hara, a Forensic Linguist – and she immediately sees something is wrong with the suicide note. In her gut, she knows this was cold-blooded murder.

Battling sceptical superiors and the Irish establishment, Lucy digs for the truth and begins to uncover a shadowy trade in ancient artifacts led by a mysterious figure known only as ‘The Collector’.

As Lucy works to uncover his identity, she soon realises she is up against a ruthless mastermind who is systematically eliminating anyone who might lead her to him. But Lucy won’t give up and soon The Collector turns his attention to her…

The Collector – the first in a gripping new series featuring Detective Lucy O’Hara.”

Hello and welcome to damppebbles. Emma has given me the keys to the blog today so I can share my guest review of The Collector by John Maher with you. I received a free eARC of The Collector but that has in no way influenced my review.

The Collector is the first book in the Lucy O’Hara series and I really enjoyed it. I don’t remember reading a book about a forensic linguist before, and I was intrigued to see what was involved. Lucy O’ Hara is a detective determined to get her career back on track, and when her linguistic skills sense that a suicide note may hold some clues that hint at foul play, she is thrown into a deadly game.

The joy of this book is that against the background of murder and traded ancient artifacts, the characters were the stars.  Whether this was the excellent Lucy O’ Hara, the mysterious Sullivan parachuted into the investigation for unclear reasons, the deeply malevolent Collector, the cold hitman, or multiple suspects, each had a distinctive and well-defined character and often a hidden motive…

Lucy O’Hara stands out though (as you would imagine in Lucy O’ Hara book one!). A detective in need of rehabilitation with a strong sense of justice. She has a need to prove herself and overcome demons in the past, which must be done whilst leading her team through parts of the investigation with a determination that belies her shattered confidence. Her team blends colleagues from different parts of Ireland and you can sense the unity and belief growing, as the story unfolds. The author uses location well to denote changes in the pace of the story, whether the focus is on Lucy’s personal challenges or the investigation.

As I mentioned earlier the blurb mentions Forensic Linguists and some may be put off by this, worrying about a potentially complex read. I can reassure you that it wasn’t. Maher leads the reader through each of the deductions in such a simple way that you don’t feel intimidated. In fact, I thought the author could have made more of this unusual skill and I’m looking forward to finding out how more breakthroughs will come from this skillset in book two!

I would happily recommend The Collector to anyone looking for a strong story, with well-written characters and a different approach from the main detective. John Maher’s writing pulls you into an Ireland populated with strong characters, malevolent villains from across Europe and intelligent and complex police officers. A strong starting novel in what could become a fan favourite series.

I chose to read and review an eARC of The Collector. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

The Collector by John Maher was published in the UK by Inkubator Books on 5th July 2020 and is available in paperback and digital formats (please note, the following links are affiliate links which means I receive a small percentage of the purchase price at no extra cost to you): | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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John MaherJohn Maher has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won national awards for radio play and short story with RTE in Ireland. His novel, The Luck Penny, was shortlisted for debut novel on BBC Radio 5.

A former teacher and lecturer, he holds a Phd from the School of Oriental and African Studies (London).

He lives in a small Irish village, between the Atlantic and the Irish Sea, from which he steals away, from time to time, to visit the world outside the island.

THE COLLECTOR will be his first novel published with Inkubator Books.

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski @borstinski @cobaltdinosaur #GuestReview #MamasGone #TheLagottiFamily

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“When children grow up, the parents must die

California gang leader Mary Lou has built a criminal empire while her adult children are desperate for their mother’s attention and love.

As her mental faculties wane, Alice and Frank Jr must acknowledge their mother is not the woman she once was and that they need to step up and take the helm, despite the stark differences between them.

But their sibling rivalry blinds both of them to their weaknesses which threatens the family when the Russian mob moves into the state. How can they fend off those attacks while fighting to decide who will lead the family now their dear Mama’s gone?”

Hello my bookish friends. I am delighted to welcome you to the blog today to my guest reviewer’s stop on the Mama’s Gone blog tour. Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi is the fourth book in The Lagotti Family series and was published earlier this week on 18th March 2019. I’ll hand straight over to my guest reviewer, Ryan (or ‘the husband!’).

Starting a post on damppebbles is always tricky. It’s a great blog [Emma: You have to say that!] and I always worry whether my review is going to get it a bad reputation? But after reading Mama’s Gone, a mob crime thriller, I’m not so worried! I’m considering up and leaving damppebbles, setting up my own blog, making some money out of the marks and building my own blogging mob empire.

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinski is effectively the fourth book in the Lagotti Family series. However, having read it, I would not have known this. It reads well as a standalone with plenty of back story and character history. The book moves at a rapid pace, starting with a shooting before bringing out what has gone before. The four main characters are each clearly cast; hard working Alice, lazy Mama’s boy Frank, reliable Bobby and of course Mama. Mama runs a traditional mob; drugs, prostitution and gambling but with two children growing up as rivals to be the successor and Russian mobs moving in, what will happen? Will the traditional mob be victorious as it has been so many times in the past or is a new dawn coming?

I must admit by the end of the book I didn’t really like any of the characters. Normally I like a good anti-hero but the author does a great job of showing the multiple flaws of each character. Too much loyalty in one, a ruthless streak for succeeding in another and what some would call a pathological streak in yet another. The book cleverly draws the story forward quickly with each small battle a character faces adding to the story. As we near the crescendo the characters not only have to fight with the outside world but also inside the family as Mama slowly loses her grip on the helm of the family organisation.

I have to say I liked the story. It read well as a standalone and bought some distinct characters into being. The author wasn’t afraid to let his characters live and die by their bloodthirsty, ruthless decisions. Decisions of a mob character rather than your typical reader and watching this happen from the other side of a kindle screen worked well! If crime is a genre you enjoy this will be an easy read for you and I recommend it to all.

However, as I reach the end of this review I can confirm I enjoyed the book but I’m not brave enough to be a mob boss, so I will just thank everyone for reading and quietly creep out before anyone notices!

Mama’s Gone by Leopold Borstinksi was publsihed in the UK on Monday 18th March 2019 and is available in eBook format: | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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Leopold Borstinski is an independent author whose past careers have included financial journalism, business management of financial software companies, consulting and product sales and marketing, as well as teaching.

There is nothing he likes better so he does as much nothing as he possibly can. He has travelled extensively in Europe and the US and has visited Asia on several occasions. Leopold holds a Philosophy degree and tries not to drop it too often.

He lives near London and is married with one wife, one child and no pets.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |